Commencement of the Trial Before Justice Armour.

James Carroll put on His Trial for the Murder of Mrs. Donnelly.

Monday, Oct. 4, 1880.

Court opened this morning at 10:30. The principal event of the day was the trial of James Carroll for the murder of Judith Donnelly.

The circumstances of the awful tragedy on that stormy morning in February, which were at the time graphically laid before the readers of the ADVERTISER, and the subsequent arrest of a number of persons on the charge of having committed the foulest and blackest crime which ever blotted the fair escutcheon of our proud Dominion, are too recent in the minds of our readers to need recapitulation at this date. It will be remembered that for some years previous to the tragic occurrence a bitter feud existed between the Donnelly family and some of their neighbors, causing many deeds of rapine and malicious damage to property belonging to parties on either side. There could be but one result to such occurrences, the dividing of the residents of that locality in which the Donnelly's lived, known as the Roman Line and the adjoining concessions, the Cedar Swamp Line, into two factions, Donnelly and anti-Donnelly. For some time previous to the murder the enmity between the factions had gradually become more bitter and deadly, and this was doubtless increased, at least on one side, by the formation of a Vigilance Committee, which the Donnellys believed, rightly or wrongly, was directed especially and solely against their family. The crowning act of the crimes in Biddulph was probably hastened by the burning of the barns and crops of Patrick Ryder a few days previous to the exterminating tragedy which followed. The county home of the senior Donnelly appears on the night of the 3rd to have been occupied by James Donnelly, senior, and Judith Donnelly, the parents and founder of the Donnelly family in Biddulph; Tom Donnelly, their son, a stalwart and active young man of about twenty years of age; Bridget Donnelly, a comely cousin of the last named who had not long previously arrived out from Ireland to seek her fortune in Canada, and Johnny O'Connor, an intelligent boy of about thirteen years of age, who happened to be staying at the house that night, and who is the sole eye-witness of the bloodshed. Some time during the night the house was entered by a body of men who, in cold blood, brutally murdered the occupants except the boy O'Connor, who in the melee, hid underneath the bed and escaped the notice of the murderers. A short time afterwards John Donnelly, another son, who happened to be staying at his brother William's, about three miles distant at Whalen's Corners, was called to the door and fatally shot in mistake for his brother William by two men, while a large band guarded the other doors and windows. [...]

Source: Unknown, "The Donnelly Tragedy," London Advertiser, October 4, 1880.

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